Agripedia

Sustainable Agriculture in Uttarakhand

Rishabh Parmar
Rishabh Parmar

The agriculture in more than eighty percent area of Uttarakhand is rainfed. It is determined by its natural agronomy practices and lavish biodiversity. Baranaja means twelve grains is a conventional mixed cultivating framework widespread over the drylands of Garhwali rural locales in Uttarakhand. In this cropping system, there is an intercropping of twelve or more crops. Grains, lentils, vegetables, and root vegetables are developed in this ally cropping pattern.

All the seeds are planted together in the Kharif or monsoon season. Activities like weeding, hoeing, and harvesting are managed together by working on each other’s fields in turn, like the sowing of rice. Agriculture is completely fueled by cattle. The most important part of natural manure is cow dung.Forests supply important sustenance needs such as fodder for cattle, resulting in cow dung for manure, leaf mulches for crops, quality fuel woods, wild foods, natural fibers, and a compatible elfin climate for myriad particular hill crops.The industrial development in the Himalayan regions has affected the communities, income, environment, and locals. The outcome has been intensive farming and grazing techniques followed by the abandonment of land and a widespread migration from the hills.

The Kyarki area, nearby Rishikesh, which is a tourist spot referred to as World Yoga Capital. The backpackers are commuting to this scenic location and the local tribes are being disconnected from their heritage and part within their ecosystem. Chia farming is conducted by the Kyarki foundation which is a non-profit organization that brought new crops and farming strategies. This organization is supporting and protecting villagers while finding solutions to their social crisis.

The solutions include enhanced profits and marketing support, technology transfer to reduce the burden of physical work usually performed by women, sound research experiments that are scientifically proven and guarantee effective results, and increased economic freedom of the villagers by tapping into the superfood market potential. Chia is an annual plant that is grown commercially for its seeds rich in omega-3 fatty acids, soluble fiber, and antioxidants. Chia experiment or Chia farming has been the first experiment in the Himalayas on a piece of barren land. It is increasing the opportunities of farmers in Mysuru, and also in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Uttarakhand is also the first state in India to officially legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp. With China as the first producer and exporter worldwide, over forty countries have reverted the legal status of this highly versatile crop and built up successful examples of hemp value chains to substitute for unhealthy and unsustainable products. But these plans have not been carried out in Uttarakhand because of the close association hemp has to its psychoactive relative marijuana. Both industrial hemp and marijuana belong to the Cannabis family. The industrial hemp has been naturally selected for generations to obtain stable varieties that maintain their characteristics useful for many industrial applications but do not contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the psychoactive component. There would be no risk of encouraging drug abuse by cultivating industrial hemp.

Another unique crop that is cultivated in Uttarakhand is Quinoa. It is an herbaceous grain plant that is very versatile as a food item and rich in protein. Its nutritional content is similar to rice, it is gluten-free as well, but it sells at a much higher price on the Rishikesh and international market than common rice. It is generally used in salads, even though other uses are being explored, e.g. protein supplements powder. It belongs to the Amaranth family, a crop that is widely grown in the hills of Uttarakhand, indicating that it can be adapted to the area but requires specific biodiversity impact assessment.

A few informal trials of quinoa farming have already begun around Rishikesh, indicating an interest of the local farmers. Sustainable agriculture is a growing practice that is vital to the health and welfare of our planet. While modern industrial agriculture is highly productive and can produce a massive amount of plants within a harvest season, it also introduces many damaging and long-term problems that can only be solved through sustainable practices.

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